By The Canadian Press - Wednesday, April 24, 2013 - 0 Comments
National park visitors could soon be zip-lining through a forest or hang-gliding over a…
National park visitors could soon be zip-lining through a forest or hang-gliding over a valley under new rules approved by Parks Canada.
Spokesman Ed Jager says the new policy is an attempt to broaden the experiences available to visitors in the parks.
Other new approved activities include kite-surfing and via ferratas, which allows visitors to experience some of the excitement of rock climbing through fixed cables and rungs.
The new thrills won’t be free. They’ll be offered through private contractors who will charged for their service.
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, March 18, 2013 at 8:00 AM - 0 Comments
Canadian Press. Internal documents show the prime minister’s department micro-managed a media event staged by Parks Canada, trying to erase the venerable agency from a public announcement while promoting the Harper government.
Postmedia. Federal librarians and archivists who set foot in classrooms, attend conferences or speak up at public meetings on their own time are engaging in “high risk” activities, according to the new code of conduct at Library and Archives Canada. Given the dangers, the code says the department’s staff must clear such “personal” activities with their managers in advance to ensure there are no conflicts or “other risks to LAC.” The code, which stresses federal employees’ “duty of loyalty” to the “duly elected government,” also spells out how offenders can be reported.
CBC. Approval for a reality show production crew to film an immigration raid at a Vancouver construction site came directly from the federal government, documents obtained by a Vancouver woman show.
By The Canadian Press - Sunday, March 17, 2013 at 1:17 PM - 0 Comments
OTTAWA – You might say Parks Canada got mauled by Bigfoot.
Internal documents show…
OTTAWA – You might say Parks Canada got mauled by Bigfoot.
Internal documents show the prime minister’s department micro-managed a media event staged by Parks Canada, trying to erase the venerable agency from a public announcement while promoting the Harper government.
The incident is a case study in communications control from the centre, a signal feature of the governing Conservatives since they first came to power in 2006.
The event was an Oct. 17, 2011, news conference in Halifax to announce an agreement to transform Sable Island, a fabled sand crescent 290 kilometres off Nova Scotia, into a national park reserve.
The deal had been meticulously negotiated by Parks Canada with the Nova Scotia government over the course of a year, and proud officials wanted a splashy announcement as a way to celebrate Parks Canada’s 100th birthday in 2011.
By The Canadian Press - Tuesday, March 5, 2013 at 1:56 PM - 0 Comments
OTTAWA – The federal NDP says cuts to winter services at national parks are…
OTTAWA – The federal NDP says cuts to winter services at national parks are out of step with the mandate of Parks Canada to increase exposure to the country’s wilderness.
But Environment Minister Peter Kent says the cuts make financial sense as very few people use the outdoor spaces in the winter months.
Parks Canada has stopped providing services like trail clearing or visitors centres in the winter as the result of a $29.2-million budget cut to the agency.
At some parks, volunteer groups or local governments have helped pick up some of the slack, while at others there is no service at all — even though the parks are technically open.
By Jennifer Ditchburn - Thursday, January 24, 2013 at 2:54 PM - 0 Comments
OTTAWA – Several of Canada’s national parks, long celebrated by the federal government as…
OTTAWA – Several of Canada’s national parks, long celebrated by the federal government as an “integral part of the Canadian identity,” have shut down winter services because of budget cuts.
The move, which followed a $29.2-million funding reduction, has forced some rural communities to do their own snow clearing with Parks Canada machines in order to continue participating in activities and attracting tourists.
In contrast to the winter parks cuts, meanwhile, the government has announced $3.9 million in grants over the past two years to help snowmobile clubs in Quebec buy new trail-grooming equipment and boost local tourism.
Affected national parks include Point Pelee in southern Ontario, Riding Mountain in Manitoba, Prince Albert in Saskatchewan and Elk Island in Alberta. The parks are technically open, but access points and trails are unplowed, visitor centres closed, and emergency services sparse.
In Forillon National park in Quebec’s Gaspe region, Parks Canada agreed this week to allow the local municipality and province pay for workers to operate the machines. Just 14 months ago, the federal government contributed $115,000 to a major cross-country ski event, La Grande Traversee de la Gaspesie, which uses the park’s trails.
At Kejimkujik in Nova Scotia, the only entrance into the park was barricaded in the fall, with the parking lot and roads left unplowed. The visitor centre was closed at Thanksgiving, and won’t reopen until Victoria Day weekend.
Parks Canada had introduced popular back-country winter camping in the park with semi-permanent huts called yurts last year, but that project appears to have been abandoned.
“Basically, you can’t get into the park unless you walk a long way. As far as most people are concerned, once that barricade goes up, the park is useless,” said Colin Mudle, a retired telecom technician who hikes in the park several times a week during the winter.
Parks Canada said budget constraints forced them to evaluate how much the parks were actually being used during the off-season. He said some people like the concept of the park being open in the winter, but don’t actually use it.
“What are the services that people are asking us to give, how many are actually participating in it, and then we have a decision to make,” said Andrew Campbell, vice-president of visitor experience.
“Does this actually make sense to spend tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars on a service that is offered to a couple of hundred people?”
But Nancy Wood-Archer, owner of the Hawood Inn inside of Prince Albert National Park, disagrees with the characterization of the parks as poorly used during the winter.
“The three year-round businesses in our community are all owned and run by Saskatchewan families,” said Wood-Archer.
“It is very disconcerting that our government will abandon their commitment to us and see another small community close down. Considering a large percentage of our clientele in the winter are farmers and other seasonal-type employees, it is very wrong that when it is their time to relax and spend time in our parks, we close.”
Park users and local businesses near the national parks have mounted petitions, held protests in skis and snowshoes dubbed “Occupy Winter,” and pressured local MPs to restore the services.
Celes Davar, who runs an adventure tour company near Riding Mountain National Park, said the main grievance was the lack of consultation with the surrounding rural community before the change was announced.
“Because Riding Mountain is entirely surrounded by agriculture, and communities, these are loyal groups of winter users who really come out of the woodwork as soon as there’s snow,” said Davar, who is using his own money to winterize shelters in the park.
“The dilemma was suddenly that one of their most important ways of relating to Riding Mountain National Park had been pulled from underneath them.”
Local communities around Riding Mountain and Prince Albert National Park in Saskatchewan were so intent on using the parks, they convinced Parks Canada to allow volunteers to operate federal trail grooming machines. In Prince Albert, that means 50 km out of 180 km will be groomed, according to Wood-Archer.
Emergency services are another matter.
“During the period from November 1, 2012 — April 30, 2013, emergency services may be unavailable, limited or significantly delayed,” reads a warning on the Riding Mountain National Park website.
In Quebec’s Forillion National Park, the decision to reduce services carried a more visceral, emotional reaction. When the park was established in the 1970s, many homes were expropriated.
Parks Canada celebrated in December the fact that it has distributed 4,400 free passes to the families and descendents of those displaced, resulting in 9,000 visits over the past year.
But neither the families, nor the local community were consulted on the cuts to services at the park, according to local NDP MP Philip Toone.
“A lot of people got displaced to put this park in place, and when the federal government doesn’t put enough money into the park, people take it personally,” said Toone.
“Not only do they get kicked out of their own homes, but the trade-off was this was a good thing for the region. Well, if it’s such a good thing for the region, why is the federal government abandoning it?”
Parks Canada said they were unable to provide a full list of the affected parks to The Canadian Press because of the decentralized nature of the system.
By Jennifer Ditchburn, The Canadian Press - Tuesday, January 22, 2013 at 9:02 PM - 0 Comments
OTTAWA – Cash-strapped Parks Canada is stuck between a rock — or is that…
OTTAWA – Cash-strapped Parks Canada is stuck between a rock — or is that Rockies? — and a hard place.
The federal agency is currently consulting the public on a long list of proposed fee hikes for the country’s national parks and historic sites, pointing out that the rates have been frozen since 2008 and costs are on the rise.
But at the same time as fees are going up, many services are in decline following $55 million in announced budget cuts and the resultant 600 jobs lost across the system.
Over the weekend, so-called “Occupy Winter” protesters gathered in some national parks across the country to demand a return of winter services that were abruptly shut down this year. Visitors are left to guide themselves at some historic sites, and visiting seasons have been shortened.
The agency is now looking to contract out some of its operations, including three hot springs in the Rockies and a golf course in Cape Breton.
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, July 12, 2012 at 10:48 AM - 0 Comments
The Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society says parks are under threat.
Federal budget cuts will signiﬁcantly reduce scientiﬁc research and monitoring essential to protect our national parks. And provincial spending on parks continues to be well below what is needed, leaving them vulnerable to threats from inside and outside their boundaries. Examples include the growing problems facing national parks including New Brunswick’s Fundy and Nova Scotia’s Kejimkujik, and BC’s provincial parks.
And the Klune Lake Research Station in the Yukon has lost its federal funding.
The Kluane facility is run by the Arctic Institute of North America, a joint U.S.-Canada research operation that is administered by the University of Calgary along with the University of Alaska. The scientists at Kluane Lake say their facility is of inestimable value because it sits in one of the world’s most unique open-air laboratories. Its windows look out onto Yukon’s Kluane National Park, a 22,000-square kilometre wilderness area that boasts Canada’s highest mountains and a segment of the largest non-polar icefield on Earth.
See previously: The quiet cuts
By Aaron Wherry - Friday, June 15, 2012 at 4:34 PM - 0 Comments
There is apparently some consternation around an internal memo sent to Parks Canada employees.
Parks Canada employees across the country have received letters warning they’re not allowed to criticize the agency or the federal government. The directive comes as the agency cuts hundreds of jobs or curtails work hours. ”I am aware that during this time of significant transition, the concept of loyalty can have a very particular meaning. However, as employees of the public sector, our duty is to support the elected government,” employees were told.
The NDP’s Annick Papillon was rather critical in her questioning of the government’s about this during QP this morning. Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, May 3, 2012 at 12:51 PM - 0 Comments
Parks Canada will cut jobs and privatize some operations. Librarians will lose their jobs. Foreign aid for a dozen of the world’s poorest nations will be slashed. Defence staff who deal with suicide prevention and post-traumatic stress disorder will also be let go.
They have been told that the DND’s Deployment Health Section is being shut down, cutting four jobs, including those of suicide prevention specialists. The employees also monitor PTSD rates and traumatic brain injury.
Eight of the 18 jobs in DND’s epidemiology section also will be cut. Those include epidemiologists and researchers who analyze mental health issues such as depression, PTSD, and suicide. The unions say a trial program on injury prevention at Canadian Forces Base Valcartier also will be closed because of the budget cuts.
By Alex Ballingall - Tuesday, September 13, 2011 at 10:45 AM - 4 Comments
The ‘parasite of man’ is to be eradicated as cities around the world vie to be the first to go rat-free
From time immemorial, humankind has been bothered by rats. They gnaw on energy cables, scratch through walls, spread disease, devour and desecrate agricultural goods and decimate endangered species—not to mention the constant urinating and defecating. Recently in a suburb of Johannesburg, an elderly woman died in hospital after rats chewed her eyelids. “They bite our children and leave them scared for life,” local resident Sheila Hlavangwani told the Look Local news agency. “Even our cats are afraid of them.”
For governments and organizations across the globe, enough is enough. From Dubai to the Haida Gwaii, South Africa to Saskatchewan, eradication campaigns are under way to beat back rat infestations. The battle lines are drawn across geography, ranging from remote unpopulated islands to bustling urban centres like Copenhagen, where officials promise the city will be rat-free by 2015.
Gregg Howald, North American regional director of California-based Island Conservation, works to eradicate the rodents from far-flung islands. “Eradication is a tool for something bigger, which is preventing extinctions,” says Howald, who has participated in over 20 rat eradications on islands all over the world. “You’ll see distribution of rats from subarctic conditions and subantarctic conditions all the way through to the deep tropics,” he says. “They can survive on virtually anything that has any degree of protein and nutrition.”
By Philippe Gohier - Thursday, July 29, 2010 at 5:43 PM - 0 Comments
157 years later, Canadian archaeologists uncover the ship sent to find the fabled explorer
Parks Canada researchers came upon one of the most fabled shipwrecks in marine archaeology this week in Canada’s Arctic. The HMS Investigator sank in the frigid waters of Mercy Bay 157 years ago after it was abandoned by its crew when it became locked in ice during a search for a legendary expedition headed up by Sir John Franklin.
Environment Minister Jim Prentice was among the first people to get a close-up view of the wreck of the HMS Investigator just a few days after it was found by the Parks Canada team.
“We were able to position our Zodiac immediately above the Investigator to peer down in the icy Arctic water, which is crystal-clear,” Prentice said in an interview from Mercy Bay. “It sits perfectly upright in 11 metres of water. When you look down on it, you’re able to see in exquisite detail all the decking and the ship’s timbers and so on. It’s an incredible thing to see.”